Random Thoughts On Sonoma

After one of the toughest weeks I can remember in the Verizon IndyCar Series, it was fitting that the championship finished the way it did. I’ll go ahead and get my gloating out of the way. Over three weeks ago, when we did our most recent One Take Only with Paul Dalbey as a guest – we gave our picks for the championship. Paul picked Juan Montoya to win the championship, John picked Graham Rahal and I chose Scott Dixon. My logic was that Rahal would fade, Montoya and Power had not been on the podium since May and Scott Dixon would do what he always does – drive cleanly, stay up front and let the others make the mistakes. That’s exactly how it played out.

The GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma started out as do most races at Sonoma – dull. Once the everyone made it through Turn Two, the field spread out and was somewhat stagnant. Pole-sitter Will Power stayed out front, followed by Josef Newgarden, who started next to Power on the front row. Montoya was in fourth and riding comfortably to cruise to a finish solid enough to win the championship.

After a round of pit stops put Power back just in front of Montoya – things got crazy following a re-start. Somehow, Montoya clipped the back-end of Power and spun him around, bringing out another full-course yellow. In the process, Montoya damaged his front-wing enough that he needed to pit and change it out. Suddenly, Montoya and Power were at the back of the field. Graham Rahal was not having a good day, but in the ongoing graphic of “As They Run” – Rahal was within ten points of Montoya. Rahal never got any closer.

Outstanding pit work and superb driving put Scott Dixon in the lead. For a while, it looked as if Dixon may even cruise to the race win and the championship. While the race win never seemed much in doubt towards the end, the championship started looking like it would slip through Dixon’s fingers and there was nothing he could do about it. Montoya was making his patented charge up through the field. Seemingly stuck in twelfth for most of the closing laps, Montoya was suddenly in eighth. All Dixon could do was win the race, lead the most laps and hope things fell his way.

If Dixon won the race, Montoya had to finish fifth or better to win the championship. Riding in eighth with the laps dwindling down, it was looking bleak for Montoya. Then suddenly, Sébastien Bourdais punted Rahal going into the hairpin. Rahal’s resulting spin moved Montoya up to seventh. Then Race Control issued a well-deserved drive-through penalty for Bourdais, which moved Montoya to sixth.

Suddenly, the “As They Run” box showed Dixon and Montoya tied in points, but by winning the race – Dixon would have won three races to Montoya’s two. That would be the tie-breaker. All that stood between Montoya and the go-ahead fifth position was Ryan Briscoe, who was nursing worn tires. Briscoe had been unceremoniously dumped once by Team Penske and twice by Chip Ganassi Racing, the respective teams of Montoya and Dixon. Would Briscoe battle Montoya or let him by? Whatever he did would hand one of his former employers the championship.

As it turned out, Montoya never got that close. His car was not handling well, either. He managed to cut the margin to Briscoe in half, but that was it. Montoya ran out of laps as he chased Briscoe to the line after Dixon had won the race. Not only did Dixon win his third race of the season, he won his fourth Verizon IndyCar championship for his career.

As Dixon celebrated in disbelief, Montoya was left to ponder what might have been. For fifteen races, dating back to the season-opener at St. Petersburg – Juan Montoya led the championship. With two-thirds of the season complete, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Montoya would cap off his second Indianapolis 500 win in May, with his second IndyCar championship in only four US open-wheel seasons.

When Graham Rahal won at Mid-Ohio earlier this month, Montoya’s once-substantial lead had shrunk to only nine points. He came out of the ill-fated Pocono race with a more comfortable thirty-four point lead and seemed destined to leave northern California with the Astor Challenge trophy. But one little incident between two Penske teammates cost Roger Penske his third IndyCar championship, since leaving CART for the 2002 season.

With so much on the line, I can safely say that I’ve never seen such a riveting IndyCar race at Sonoma. Had there been five races left in the season, this may have been a boring race. Once he got up front, Scott Dixon was never threatened. But with the championship on the line and having it not settled until after Dixon crossed the line and won the race – I was exhausted afterwards.

After the emotional week that the entire IndyCar community went through, The Verizon IndyCar Series needed a feel-good race like this. Whetherr you were pulling for Dixon, Montoya or even Josef Newgarden to win the championship – you have to admit that it was a great finish – even if it didn’t come out the way you wanted.

Justin Wilson will be buried this week in his home country of England. After celebrating Scott Dixon’s championship, the series will mourn and remember Justin Wilson again. Then everyone will regroup throughout another long offseason, which we know will be at least a few weeks shorter than last year’s. Yesterday’s race was a tremendous high note to head into the offseason. That was the race that IndyCar needed.

TV Coverage: The “A-Team” of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy were in the booth, with four pit reporters and Robin Miller. Given the circumstances, I thought this was NBCSN’s best performance of the year. Diffey was his usual exuberant self, but was correct as he kept reminding us that this could go down to the wire. It did.

It was appropriate that most of the pre-race show dealt with the aftermath of the fallen Justin Wilson. It wasn’t overly dramatic or over the top. Instead, there were tasteful and moving tributes as well as one-on-one conversations with Wilson’s peers.

Surprisingly, one of the best moments came with Robin Miller’s tribute. I say surprisingly only because Robin Miller has seen so much tragedy in racing over his long career, you wonder how much another one fazes him. But the high praise he offered Wilson spoke volumes, coming from someone who has seen so much and is not given to over-dramatize a situation. Like him or hate him (I like him), you knew this was genuine if Robin Miller said it. Hearing such praise coming from Robin Miller confirmed what everyone else had said all week. See Miller’s tribute here.

Aside from their outstanding in-race coverage, give credit to NBCSN for sticking with the Championship trophy ceremony. Overall, NBCSN capped off another great season of IndyCar coverage.

Pre-Race Ceremonies: This was a definite mixed bag. There were more Justin Wilson tributes for those in attendance that ended with a very touching and emotional playing of the U.K. National Anthem “God Save the Queen” in honor of Wilson’s British heritage. I don’t tear up easily, but that almost got to me. Unfortunately, that stirring moment was followed by the comic relief that was the singing of our own National Anthem.

I’ve come under fire for criticizing singers supposedly doing their best to sing what is truly a difficult piece to perform. So much so that I have tried to refrain from any comment unless it is that bad. Yesterday’s was that bad.

Some have suggested I should perform it if I think I could do a better job. After hearing what may be the worst rendition I’ve heard to date, I’ll be glad to apply. It doesn’t take much talent at all to improve on the tonal qualities of a bleating goat, as she completely slaughtered The Star-Spangled Banner. Why these young “artists” feel the need to put their own spin on such a stirring anthem is beyond me.

In Need of a Shave: I was glad to see that James Hinchcliffe abandoned his Paul Bunyan look and trimmed the beard he has been cultivating all summer. If I’m not mistaken, the Mayor of Hinchtown had not shaved since his life-threatening accident in May. It was beginning to look ridiculous. At some point before Sunday, Hinchcliffe trimmed his growth and he now sports his familiar close-cropped stubble. I’m not normally a fan of that look, but I remember seeing Hinch when he was completely clean-shaven for about a day a couple of years ago. It was not a good look. He looked like he was in the eighth grade. The beard actually works for him.

Now that he’s finished with that razor, he needs to pass it over to David Letterman, who appears he quit shaving about the time he quit his show – also in late May. With his red Steak ‘n Shake shirt and his thick white beard, it felt like they were interviewing St. Nick. Of course, Christmas trees will be up in stores after this weekend, so I guess that’s appropriate. Unless he’s planning on being a mall Santa this fall, Dave needs to shave.

Seriously? From the sour grapes department, comes this. Juan Montoya was predictably unhappy in the post-race press conference. I get that. When you throw away a championship that you lead for over five months in the very last race, it can be frustrating.

But his comments were nothing more than that of a poor loser when he said “Dixon had a s**t season and had one good race”. Seriously? This was after Montoya complained about Dixon benefiting from winning a double-points race. Keep in mind, Montoya won the only other double-points race – the Indianapolis 500. For those keeping score, it’s already been calculated that if all races paid the same, Dixon would have still won the championship.

Ganging Up: Several times in yesterday’s broadcast, it was mentioned how teammates were ganging up to protect a teammate going for the championship. Nowhere was that more apparent than when they were ganging up on Graham Rahal. Think about it; Power and Montoya were the Penske drivers with a real shot at the championship. Not only was second-place Rahal to deal with them, but the other two Penske drivers that were no longer in contention. Ganassi had three drivers fighting for Scott Dixon. Rahal had no one.

Teammates could either block or intimidate Rahal at any time. Charlie Kimball, Sebastian Saavedra, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud were all charged with essentially being something akin to a goon in hockey. They were not to run Rahal off the road, but they could certainly make life miserable for him if they needed to.

As it turned out, such tactics were not needed. Rahal did not have a good car and was never much of a threat at all. But it had to be unnerving for him to know that he could face that at any time if he were to be a threat for the championship.

Unlucky Pits: Josef Newgarden has had bad pit stops for much of the season. His luck continued yesterday, but you really can’t put any of the blame on his crew. On his first stop, he and Will Power pitted together and appeared to be headed back out together. That was before Simon Pagenaud entered the scene.

As a courtesy to his teammate, Power – Pagenaud stopped in the middle of pit lane to allow Power to exit cleanly. The problem was, he was effectively blocking Newgarden from exiting. Newgarden ultimately had to run through another pit and run over the outstretched air-hose. As they have done all year, Race Control chose to deal with it midweek. Surely, no penalty will be assessed to Newgarden for running over the hose.

On his second stop, Newgarden stalled the car after it was serviced promptly. For whatever reason, the fuel spillage caught fire and had to be extinguished. Then the car would not re-fire, for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the car started, but Newgarden re-joined the race in twenty-third place. He ultimately finished twenty-first.

Shout-Out: A tip of the hat needs to go to Mikhail Aleshin, who returned to the cockpit of an IndyCar for the first time this weekend, after his horrific practice crash at last year’s season finale at Fontana.

Aleshin’s return did not get a whole lot of air time. In fact, I’m not sure he was mentioned more than once on Sunday. But in a one-off effort in a third car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, qualified fourteenth and finished a respectable tenth. To fare that well after such a long layoff and the first time driving the new aero kits, deserves some praise, I would think.

All in all: I cannot stress how much IndyCar needed this race to turn out like it did. After all of the the emotions and then all of the predictable bad press that followed later in the week – this series needed to put together a good show and a successful race weekend. They won on all accounts.

And it also confirmed what we have known for many years – Scott Dixon is one talented driver. By winning his fourth title, he now has as many as Bourdais, Mario Andretti and Dario Franchitti. Only AJ Foyt has more, with seven.

Dixon just completed his fourteenth season with Chip Ganassi. At thirty-five, he is still relatively young. Hopefully, he will drive for many more years. Everyone should take it in and realize we are watching greatness. I think most fans didn’t appreciate just how good Dario Franchitti was until he was forced to retire. Don’t make that same mistake with Dixon.

As we head into the offseason, there are more questions than answers. Safety will be debated as it always should be. The schedule has yet to be announced. We have been teased that there could be a few surprises. After already losing Fontana and (probably) NOLA for next year, let’s hope these are pleasant surprises. But first and foremost is Justin Wilson’s funeral. That should keep everything in perspective as we move forward into the offseason and towards next season. But we will move on and heal, because we just have to. Yesterday was a major step in the right direction.

George Phillips

31 Responses to “Random Thoughts On Sonoma”

  1. I really don’t enjoy Scott Dixon wins from a fan perspective, he is so boring, there, I said it. But, that team, “team”, won this championship by being better teammates. The Penske drivers as a whole are better than the Ganassi drivers but with about 10x the ego. There is no way they can beat Ganassi in most cases. I wish it weren’t true but that is the case. I started rooting away from JPM after the pit incident, to which, I assumed Montoya would be gifted the title by dirty driving and maneuvering like that in the pits.

    So, good job Ganassi team. Most of them are likeable guys but a bit boring on the track, not much ego other than Tony and a good “team”.

  2. Shouldn’t the Championship be broadcast on Big NBC instead of Don’t-have-cable-so-I’m-out-of-luck NBC? I know sponsors like going to Snornoma and teams and drivers like going to Snornoma, but if they’re going to have the Championship there every year, shouldn’t they do a little track augmentation to improve the competition for us knuckle-biters who enjoy passing? I guess I’m the only one who thinks the length of the season is about right, but I do hope they start up a little sooner next year. Congrats to Dixon. Looking forward to an interesting silly season, unless that AP writer has his way and Indycar is outlawed while I’m sleeping.

    • ABC has over-the-air broadcast rights to IndyCar, so it can’t be on the NBC big station. Sonoma is always a snore. You PRAY for someone to go mental and make it interesting.

      • did not know that. assumed they bought the 500 and a couple others and NBC got the leftovers. thanks P-dog.

    • It’s great to see people complain continuously about a circuit that’s been on the schedule for 10 years, and isn’t going anywhere. There’s plenty of places to pass on the circuit. You just have to find the drivers with the skill and balls to do it.

      Last year’s race was actually more interesting, because fuel economy became an issue late in the race (even Conway led for awhile). It played to Dixon’s strength, the way he can roll through a corner without wasting fuel on exit. But this one was great fun. I’m not sure why folks think JPM struck Power. Power admitted that he was trying to come underneath Newgarden and flubbed it on the crossover. Pretty much a racing incident, but if someone is not a JPM fan, they would likely see it as his fault.

      About your anthem critique…I’m in Northern California and the singer, Lindsay Bruce, is actually a friend of the family. It’s an irrelevant and unfair critique of a young singer doing her best. It’s a hard song to sing, and never easy performing it outdoors in front of a crowd. You’re talking about a real person when you say that “It doesn’t take much talent at all to improve on the tonal qualities of a bleating goat”. If she made a personal attack about your writing in the same manner, you’d be appalled.

      • No offense, but George is correct. She sounded terrible. If she at least tried to sing it as it should be sung, it might have been better, but all the singers want to put their own spin to it, which compounded her problem. Awful doesn’t begin to describe how bad it was.

      • I think you’ve let your family’s friendship to Ms. Bruce cloud your judgement. Not only was it bad, it was insulting! And George was spot on. My wife said she sounded like a goat while she was singing. It’s a hard song to sing, but a lot of people do a good job of it. Others don’t. Ms. Bruce did not.

        • Actually the issue is when someone refers to a young woman as sounding like a farm animal. If it’s not your cup of tea, that’s fine. But insults cross the line, especially when we’re not talking about anyone actually involved in the race. It’s George’s blog, he can say what he wants. But there are more respectful ways to disagree or express dislike for something.

  3. There is so much to digest here. I laughed out loud when I read your goons analogy. I said the same thing to my wife about 3/4’s through the race. I like RM even more after that tribute to JW. The National Anthem was probably the worst I ever remember hearing. Was that intentional? Did something go drastically wrong? Graham Rahal’s exchange with Sebastian Bourdais caught on camera was classic. I may be criticized for this, but there is something about an unedited f-bomb from a ticked off driver in the heat of the moment that is just so compelling for me. What a way to put an exclamation point on your season GR! I am going to remember that for a while along with the look on Juan Montoya’s post-race face I was surprised to not hear your thoughts on double points George, especially after JPM’s post race comments. All in all, I come away thankful there was this one more race between Pocono and the long off season for everyone concerned to begin to heal. This off-season is going to suck and this Sonoma race will help make it easier and was very therapeutic in many respects. I still can’t believe the season is over.

  4. Dave can do whatever the heck he wants. He’s retired, he’s rich and he’s an IndyCar owner. I like his beard.

  5. Well… it certainly was the best race we’ve ever seen at Sonoma. That said I was both surprised and disappointed that Sonoma will likely be next year’s season finale. I’d have preferred Boston to Sonoma, although really I think the season finale should be an oval. With some obvious exceptions ending the season at an oval allowed for incredibly close and exciting racing to decide the title rather than qualifying and pit strategy.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly I was not thrilled by Dixon winning. Rahal and Newgarden winning would have been an interesting, young, American, and small team champion. That’s basically all anyone could ever hope for. Newgarden (or really CFH) lost the title on pit road, and that’s not just at Sonoma. I’m not sure why, but the 67’s pit crew has thrown away many good results over the last two years. If Newgarden leaves I imagine that pit road problems will help him make that decision. As for Rahal he and his team straight up blew it. They just fell apart the last two races and it allowed Dixon to pass them despite JPM giving every opportunity to give the title away. I hope both drivers are back again next year in the title hunt. I think with Newgarden that is likely, but what about Rahal? I’m a believer in Rahal, but can he and a 1 car team sustain the speed they had this year long term? Letterman thinks they can, but I’m not so sure. That said if they keep their sponsors they’ll at least have the money on hand to try. Related, will they really be a 1 car team next year? I think anyone with a sponsor or money would be trying to be the second Rahal car… and there are some odd rumors involving Newgarden at RLL.

    JPM was certainly being unpleasant last night, but my dislike of Dixon was strong enough I enjoyed hearing JPM tear down Dixon. Since I know a lot of Dixon fans (probably the majority of fans that he has outside of Oceania) are on Oilpressure I’ll explain it like this. Dixon is to me the archetype of what’s wrong with modern drivers, and basically a clone of Jimmie Johnson. They’re not terribly interesting, they’re very mechanical, they’re very calculating, but they lack the excitement or passion I want out of a real racer. Compare and contrast JJ/Dixon with Lewis Hamilton, Valentino Rossi, Tony Stewart or (and this will be controversial) Brad Keselowski! Those four racers win a lot and are exciting, Dixon/JJ… not so much. So now we’re in for five-eight months of IS DIXON THE GREATEST DRIVER OF ALL TIME? All I can say is he’s getting close to taking the mantel of GREATEST FUEL SAVER OF ALL TIME away from his former teammate Franchitti.

    JPM threw away the title in an impressive fashion. I was upset it went to Dixon, but I think losing the title was deserved. It felt like JPM went into points racing mode after Indy, and untimely that ended up making him too conservative. He hasn’t won a race since and for the most part he was running top 10 not top 5. Either they were being too cautious or they simply lacked speed. Either way he opened the door and a lot of people got really close to the title. Penske throwing away a title at the last second has become almost comical in Indycar. Also the Will Power dominates practice+qualifying only to fall apart in the race has become rather routine. I think most of us expected when the road/street course heavy schedule began in 2012 that Power would win everything, and outside of qualifying that has not been the case.

    The stretch of races from Toronto-Mid Ohio helped make me care about Indycar again. Seeing Newgarden and Rahal each win multiple times this year was amazing. The season started off with all Penske, Ganassi, and one CFH win but over the summer it became incredible. Based upon TV ratings it seems like a number of people from Fontana-Mid Ohio re-discovered Indycar. There was lots of excitement and parity in the back half of the season. The death of Justin Wilson is tragic. Hopefully 2016 sees the positives continue while leaving behind the negative parts of 2015.

    • Bruce Waine Says:

      “Points racing mode”………….. Brings back the same scenario several years ago when , I believe, Helio (& Roger) also lost the Championship due to the season ‘points racing mode’ and could not recover the needed points towards the end of the season to win the championship.

  6. billytheskink Says:

    Your clairvoyance will not be forgotten, George. Kudos to you for your master prediction and kudos to Dixon for a masterful drive to the win and the title. Also, kudos to Townsend Bell for bringing up the fact that Montoya’s 1999 CART championship was won on a most-wins tiebreaker, I was hoping to see that mentioned whether the championship was tied or not.

    There was not a tremendous amount of great racing action yesterday, because… Sonoma, but it was definitely a compelling race. It had the kind of unexpected occurrences that seem to happen more often at ovals and street circuits. It was a pretty good end to a tough week (and a generally nice season).

    And add my name to the list of those praising Robin Miller’s Justin Wilson tribute. That was about as well done as piece like that gets.

  7. Dixon is sooo boring. You know who else was boring? Rick Mears. Also Mark Donahue. (Yes, this is sarcasm)

    Dixon is a deserving winner, and 4 time champion. The Ganassi’s won this race and the championship as a team. Kanaan and Kimball raced hard and clean, to finish ahead of JPM and help Dixon to the championship. If either one of them botches a pit stop, or makes an overly optimistic move, or goes off track, they drop to 6th and Montoya hoists the trophy. Meanwhile 4 Penske’s can’t stay out of their own way, and piss away another championship for the Captain.

    Ganassi will be even tougher to beat with Newgarden on board next year. Seriously, I know that he’s the one that stalled it, but his crew were like Circus clowns trying to restart him. They took forever to respond to the fire, and ultimately it was the Penske guys from Power’s pit that hosed the car down to put the fire out. I like rooting for CFH and the little guys as much as anyone, but Newgarden would be a fool to not switch to one of the big two.

  8. Lots of sour grapes in whine country yesterday and here today. What the hell does being perceived as boring or dull have to do with being a good race car driver?! I should be so dull.

    Kudos to Robin Miller. A pox upon the national anthem singer(?).

    I would not be so presumptious as to suggest that David Letterman shave, coming as he did from his Montana ranch.

    Whenever the Green Bay Packers go into a “prevent defense” I want to throw something at the TV. Same with racing. When you race not to lose, you lose.

  9. Regarding the claims from a number of us online that Dixon would have won the championship regardless of the double points…mea culpa, we all made the same mistake in thinking that Dixon’s 4th in the 500 and win at Sonoma had to have given him more points in those races than Montoya, and thus the championship anyway. Well, it certainly would have given Dixon more points in those two races, but not enough to overcome his deficit to JPM in the balance of the schedule.

    Both finished with 556 points. Dixon earned 67 points at the 500 plus 103 at Sonoma, so his point total excluding the double points races was 386. Montoya earned 101 at the 500 and 56 at Sonoma, for a point total of 399 excluding the double points races–13 points more than Dixon.

    Without double points, Dixon would have earned 35 from the 500 (32 for 4th, plus 2 for most laps led, plus 1 for leading) and 53 at Sonoma (50 for the win, plus those same 3 bonus points) for a total of 474 points.

    Montoya would have earned 51 for the 500 (50 for the win plus 1 for leading) and 28 for his 6th place finish at Sonoma, for a total of 478…JPM wins outright, no tiebreaker necessary.

    • But on the other hand…recall that no points were awarded at IMS for qualifying, right? Dixon would have been awarded 33 points for P1 in the first round, plus at least another point for the Fast Nine, while Montoya would have been awarded no more than 19 points for qualifying P15 in the first round. Dixon would have won outright, 508 (or as much as 516) to 497.

  10. Should the series interview all potential drivers and put them through Myers-Briggs testing as they go through the ladder and politely suggest to the INTJ’s that maybe they need to consider becoming…hmmmm…actuaries, perhaps? Sorry, but doing what it takes to win when it counts is what makes a champion, and Dixon and JJ have proven they excel in that regard.

  11. Good race. I enjoyed it.

  12. Dixon is my favorite driver. My wife and I had a blast watching the race unfold. My fingers haven’t been bitten that much since my Buckeyes knocked off Bama in New Orleans. Oh the joy!

    My wife is from Charlotte so when she watched NASCAR I had to pick a driver. Montoya was my pick and I learned an awful lot about him. The highs are high but the lows can be lower than Milka’s running order on a road course. It was not always easy being a Montoya fan in NASCAR. He constantly threw results away in NASCAR. In F1 his pole to win ratio was terrible. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that he did it again.

    The bigger problem may be the performance at Team Penske the last half of the year. The results were largely terrible. What happened to Helio? George had a post about doubting the four-car team. I have to say we saw the result. Ganassi’s four-car team is structured a differently. So much so that Rahal left the team. There is definitely a class system with the 9-10 and the 83-8. What happens if Newgarden is in the 8 or Karem gets a full ride in the 8 and his talent is realized? Who knows, but it worked this year. It was quite a team win for Ganassi.

    Power and Montoya’s beefs after the race were sour grapes at the time, but I do think both have merit. The double points gimmick is silly. Power’s comment is more interesting to me because I feel the beef isn’t discussed. There is lots of luck involved in racing, but on the road and street courses there is even more with fuel strategies. Last place, catch a caution, and win the race (Dixon Mid-Ohio 2014). Why don’t these races unfold more like F1 races? Stall out on track? Out of the race. Full course caution? There needs to be someone in a very dangerous position. Otherwise use local cautions. If there is a full course caution, leave the pits open so drivers can pit when they want. You can always measure their speed/data and penalize them (DURING THE RACE!) if needed. Race procedure on road and street courses needs to be different than on ovals.

    Helio dumps Dixon at the Indy GP and he still wins the Championship–I think Dixon can get over running out of fuel in Chicago now. If you compare wins, podiums, and top 5’s, this season was so close between the top 5-6 guys. Watch out for RHR next year, right? On track, the series is at a great place right now. I have a feeling though the next several months we will be discussing “What is an IndyCar?” and maybe even redefining it. Things will heat up in this series even as the track goes cold.

  13. Not the outcome I expected, but what a race and congrats to Scott Dixon on his 4th championship in 14 years with Ganassi. His comments and boyish wonder and enthusiasm put a smile on my face.

    Speaking of the national anthem, I loved it when Pocono’s was an instrumental by a military band. Quite moving and on key.

    Robin’s tribute for Justin was so moving. A+ for RM. I did buy my badass t-shirt this morning and plan to wear it to Long Beach next year.

    Thanks George and Susan for another stellar year in the blog-sphere.

  14. Full course caution for a car that neither stopped on the course nor dropped fluids flipped the field. No sense. Race in and race out, Poles were won and beginning of races were dominated by Penske cars only to see the field flipped by cautions that penalized the leaders for still running in the lead. Walker admitted to delaying cautions this year to allow drivers to pit. The tie breaking point for Dixon came by running 30 laps off the pace and 20 laps from the nearest competitor to breeze past a car that crashed out well after him… to take 18th.

    We have no champion. No driver in this series has markedly outperformed all others. Celebrating anyone as if they have accomplished more than the others is comical at best. Give Dixon a golf clap… way to luck into Sato crashing in Iowa. That pointless effort when the race was completely out of reach makes you a champion. Congratulations on your teammate spinning at Mid Ohio at a time that penalized your fellow competitor and benefited you.

    Congratulations to all Indycar fans. Sonoma and 2015 is over. Discussing Justin Wilson is in the past and the willingness to demand change has past us by. 7 Deaths in 20 years so that we can crown a champion based on points that are arbitrarily awarded. No other top tier motorsport goes 20 years with only 2 cars. No other top tier motorsport does so little to change. No other top tier motorsport makes so many excuses to justify pointless on track activity.

    The only people to congratulate are those who have walked away from this sport this year because they are no longer willing to support the agendas that this sport lies to protect.

  15. big kudos to Robin Miller on his tribute! I’ve always been a fan of JPM but yesterday was most disappointing. A handshake to Dixon and saying congratulations would have been the bigger man. I didn’t see a whole lot of sulking when JPM won at Indy. : (

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